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Racism

Habib Fares
habibfares55@yahoo.com.au
2008 / 2 / 5

Historically, racism is one of the consequences of the slave system, where it was used as the ideological justification for the domination and dehumanisation of peoples in order to provide cheap labour for the ruling classes in society. In the modern era, racism spread rapidly as a result of colonialism and with the introduction of slaves to the Americas.

Colonialists and slave owners did their utmost to introduce the outrageous concept of their genetic superiority over oppressed peoples. The ideologists of racism have found strident supporters and advocates in bourgeois circles.

Karl Marx criticised the work of one racist theorist, stating that he wrote a book above all else to prove that representatives of the ‘white race’ are, in their own way, like gods among the other people; on this basis it is indisputable that the ‘noble’ families within the ‘white race’ are the ‘purest of the pure’.

While the racists were justifying by all possible means the differences in intellectual development of people by the separation of humans into ‘superior’ and ‘inferior’ sections and promoting their concepts of the particular inferiority and mental backwardness of ‘coloured genes’, Marxism proved with scientific evidence that the differences in the intellectual development of peoples are not due to racial or national features but to historical developments.

Modem sciences specialising in the study of humans reject racists’ false claims of superiority and inferiority of this or that genetic group, On the whole, science supports the concept of oneness of all members of the human species and the physical and mental equality of all peoples, regardless of the colour of their skin or other physical differences.

Racist oppression and the spread of racist ideology persisted through the transformation of society from premonopoly capitalism to the present period of domination by reactionary imperialism. The most aggressive bourgeois circles — at the forefront of which were the German fascists and the Japanese militarists who promoted the outbreak of World War 11 — were strong upholders of racist theories.

Despite the fact that the defeat of fascism dealt racism a heavy blow, it was not eradicated from the social life of our planet. While the major strongholds of racism (Nazi Germany and militarist Japan) were defeated, this did and does not mean the end of the ideology of racism and racial separation throughout the world today. The apartheid regime of South Africa is a clear example of this.

Anti-humanitarian

Racism is a reflection of the anti-humanitarian nature of capitalism. In the face of the changes achieved by progressive and socialist forces, imperialism counters with virulent campaigns of racial hatred and genocide.

The victories achieved by the peace, socialist and liberation forces in the post World War 11 period have increasingly reduced both the effectiveness of racist propaganda and the implementation of racist policies in daily life, due to the strong resistance by peoples of the world against racism in any area of life.

However, recent political and social changes occurring in Eastern Europe have opened the door, once again, to these outrageous and unacceptable concepts, internationally and in Australia.

Not only internationally, but locally as well, racist theories and racist campaigns are finding a conducive climate. It is the climate of deep economic and social crisis, created by the inherent nature of capitalist system, which puts ever increasing pressure on working people; a climate of weak trade union positions and the constant attacks on its more militant forces; the divisions among the Left, the domination of right-wing forces over the Australian Labor Party and the strong positions occupied by the New Right among conservative forces.

It is to our shame that Australia is still known internationally — along with such countries as South Africa, Israel, the USA and the UK — for being a state of entrenched racism and racist practices against non-white people.

Racist concepts in Australia have a deep historical background, reaching back two centuries. From the beginning, white colonialists adopted the ugliest policies of racism — genocide and the destruction of Aboriginal culture and society — to achieve full colonial settlement of the continent.

These racist policies have been thrown back over the years — at least officially — because of the heroic struggle of the Aboriginal people with support from advanced sections of the working class and some other strata in Australian society.

Nevertheless, unofficially, racist practices have been a continuing feature of our society, denying the rights of Aborigines and non-English speaking immigrants.

Currently, racism and racist practices are taking various forms in Australia. There have been increasing campaigns in recent times against non-white residents and migrants, particularly Asians and Middle Easterners, and lately against Arabs specifically.

Behind these campaigns of hatred stand capitalist monopoly circles — both multinational and local — which have the aim of placing the blame for the current economic crisis on migrants and attempting to divert attention from real issues and to focus it instead on ethnic and racial differences. This also serves to create a suitable climate to further their reactionary policies and attacks on the rights and gains of the working class movement.

Media

The mass media play a major role in feeding these campaigns. They do not miss a single opportunity to make full use of increasing racism in our society. Hardly a day goes by without the media carrying local and international news designed to deepen racial hatred and divisions within the Australian people.

Most recently, the Gulf crisis has been used as a rich source of racism, targeted against an important section of the Australian population — the Arab community. This includes war propaganda and fabricated news suggesting the possibility of terrorist attacks from within the Australian Arab community.

Zionist organisations in Australia which have strong links with local monopolies and with Israel and which themselves are based on racist concepts such as ‘pure blood’ and the ‘Chosen People’ make use of this anti-Arab campaign to the fullest extent.

Old and new colonialists and Zionists are responsible historically for undermining the Arab image in the consciousness of the Western public, including Australia.

They have constantly used this cheap weapon to convince the West of the legitimacy of their occupation and domination of the Arab world and its natural wealth, above all its oil.

The Zionist movement has made full use of this weapon in recent times to justify its offensive attacks on the Palestinian people and other Arabs. Imperialist and Zionist circles, by means of the mass media, have successfully planted in the minds of millions of Australians a stereotyped picture of Arabs which totally contradicts reality. This stereotype portrays Arabs as dirty, ignorant, uncivilised, violent and unable to make use of the rich natural wealth of the Arabian region.

The dominant monopoly circles in Australia are trying to conceal and denigrate all the scientific and cultural achievements by Arabs over the centuries — in mathematics, philosophy, poetry, astronomy, geography and so on because acknowledging such achievements would provide evidence to refute the essence of racist ideology based on genetic concepts.

Reactionary circles conceal the background of the many individual Arab Australians who have occupied outstanding positions in politics, trade unions, science, intellectual, business and other creative fields. These individuals are never portrayed as Arabs or of Arab descent because to expose their backgrounds would be to simultaneously expose the hollowness of racist allegations about Arabs. In contrast, unacceptable social behaviour by Arab individuals is widely publicised.

Cruel Irony

It is a cruel irony that the mass media often uses the outrageous behaviour of reactionary Arab rulers to denigrate Arabs generally. The irony arises because the Arab masses are actually struggling to overthrow these rulers, who are allies and puppets of United States imperialism, and replace them with democratic governments.

A glaring example of this is the Kuwaiti rulers whose waste and conspicuous consumption of astronomical wealth and abuse of democracy and human rights are infamous. However, this did not stop the United States and its Western allies, Including Australia, occupying the Gulf in order to defend and restore a non-existant ‘Kuwaiti democracy’.

Racist campaigns and practices against citizens of Arab origin in Australia occur in all fields — from the factory floor to the supermarkets and the schools.

These practices and campaigns are not only immoral but also anti-humanitarian. They damage not only the Arab community but also Australian society in general. Racist discrimination against half a million Arab Australians inevitably has a negative impact, politically, economically and socially, on Australian society today and for future generations. Prejudice and discrimination against one section of the community provokes a hostile counter-reaction within that group and instability within one section increases hostility and instability within the society as a whole.

Instability, hostility between groups, lack of unity within the community and particularly between workers — aren’t these the aims of the racist campaigns against Arabs and other minority groups within Australian society?

The Australian people have paid a high price in their struggle against racism and their involvement in racist wars. Today, they are paying a cost which may escalate dramatically because of the Australian Government’s subservience to United States war plans in the Gulf. These plans are based on racism, domination and the theft of the Arab people’s natural resources.

Threat of fascism

Increasing racism in Australia creates the basis for a new upsurge and expansion among the fascist forces which exist at present — National Action, the White Australia Movement, and so on.

The monopoly circles would not hesitate to use these forces in their own interests against specific ethnic groups but this can easily develop into fascism which is directed against all progressive people, regardless of their ethnic or racial origins.

It is important that the Australian people should take a serious stand against all racist concepts, trends and campaigns since they are the opposite of science, progress and friendship between people. They are the opposite of multiculturalism which is so important for social justice and progress in Australian society.

A stand against racism is a barometer of humanity. Those people who are convinced by any form of racism cannot be regarded as humanitarian. It is not humanism to talk about equality and justice while at the same time accepting oppression of Blacks and migrants, holding secret talks with racist regimes or sending troops to attack people demanding equality and liberation.

A stand against racism is also a barometer of democracy. A characteristic contradiction of the democratic bourgeoisie is to be lenient towards racism and harsh towards national minorities. Such a democracy is a contradiction in terms when it supports racism within bourgeois democracy and tolerates and feeds the racist strongholds that still exist in the world.

Racism and national chauvinism are the opposite of internationalism. It is the duty of communists and progressive people to wage a determined struggle against racism and national chauvinism as part of the struggle against imperialism and the monopolies which are the main enemy of patriotism and national liberation movements.
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Author: Habib Fares

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Publisher/Date: Australian Marxist Review, No. 27, 1991. pp 37-40

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Title: Racism

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Original location: http://www.agitprop.org.au/lefthistory/199101_feres_racism.htm

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Digital transcription by agitprop — mainman — 2003





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